Archive for April 2012
April 30, 2012 at 10:42am by Scott • 9 Comments »
With the Bucs having traded away their second-round pick in order to move back into the first to take Doug Martin, most people thought Mark Dominik would stand pat and wait for his third-rounder to hit. But Dominik is a sniper who sees what he wants and just fucking takes it. And what he wanted was LB Lavonte David out of Nebraska and he didn’t think think David was going to be there in the third for him. Someone in the chat on Friday called David as the next pick. I forget who it was, but bully for him. Nice call.
David is 6-0, 233 and runs a 4.65 40. Most people would call him undersized for a linebacker, but that would be his only drawback. He was super-productive at Nebraska and made all-conference after transferring from a junior college. He’s smart, athletic and closes on the football quick. It’s going to be tempting to compare him to Derrick Brooks because he’ll probably play the same position and because Brooks had the same “undersized” knock against him when he was drafted. This kid obviously has a long way to go, but just keep it in the back of your mind. This is why the Bucs felt comfortable passing on a linebacker in the first round. Dominik knew David was going to be there in the second and that freed him up to do what he did in the first.
I feel the need to point this out since there was so much Dominik bashing on Friday. Dominik traded down two spots to #7 and picked up a fourth-rounder, a price most people said was too low. Dominik took that fourth-rounder and used it to trade back up in the first to grab Martin. But all he did was swap fourths to do it. He still had a fourth-rounder going into the second. He then took that fourth to trade back into the second round for David. He used one fourth-rounder to trade up twice. That’s some expert wheeling and dealing, and if you don’t think so you’re just hater who enjoys being miserable and should pick another team to root for or bitch about as you please. But leave my Bucs out of your sphere of depression.
The rest of the draft I found underwhelming, mostly because I didn’t know any of the players. The Bucs took LB Najee Goode in the fifth and CB Keith Tandy, both from West Virginia. In fact, Goode and Tandy were roommates in college, so they should give the second-team back seven some continuity walking into camp. Greg Schiano played both these guys several times while at Rutgers (both WV and Rutgers are in the Big East), so he obviously spent some time scouting them even before he got to the Bucs.
“Obviously, I know a lot about both the West Virginia kids playing against them for four years,” former Rutgers coach Schiano said. “They were both a royal pain in the rear. As I told them, it’s good to be on the same side now.
“Those two guys are football maniacs. I mean, they love the game, and they play it with such passion.”
With his first seventh-round pick, Dominik grabbed Michael Smith, a running back from Utah State. Smith’s pick is all about speed and he is a true change-of-pace back. In fact, another team liked him so much that they offered Dominik a sixth-rounder next year for Smith right after he was drafted.
“I never had that happen before,” Dominik said.
Smith claimed to run a 4.26 at some point, but he was clocked at 4.32 at his pro day. That probably translates a few hundredths higher at the combine, but is still faster than anyone the Bucs currently have. Smith is 5-9, 207 and had a recent groin injury, so there’s going to be some talk about his size and durability, but for a seventh-rounder, he sounds like a steal. So I won’t hold it against Dominik for not drafting Tauren Poole out of Tennessee with this pick. Poole, by the way, went to Carolina on a UFA deal, so we’ll be seeing him soon enough.
The Bucs’ last pick was Drake Dunsmore, a tight end out of Northwestern who probably projects as a fullback. Erik Lorig and Luke Stocker already have the jobs of “white guys who can block” filled, so I’m going to say Dunsmore doesn’t make the team. Everyone else, though, I think has a real shot of sticking.
With nearly 48 hours passing since the draft ended, it seems like a good time to look at draft grades. Of course that’s dumb, but people do it anyway. SI gives the Bucs an A-, Ira Kaufman gives them a B+, Mel Kiper gave them something good (I’ll never know because I won’t pay for it, but the Bucs did well enough to be the team they push on the home page), and CBS gives them a solid B. All the draft reviews have the same complaint, though: that the Bucs should have just taken Morris Claiborne. But without the trade down, the trades back up don’t happen. Barron is a solid player at a position of huge need for the team. And again, if the Bucs thought Claiborne was better than Mark Barron, they would have taken him. But the Bucs were in a unique position to know a lot about Claiborne and they went ahead and picked Barron anyway. That’s the last time I’ll beat that horse, but it seems so obvious that I don’t know why more people aren’t realizing it.
April 27, 2012 at 10:41am by Scott • 14 Comments »
Some videos from last night and a couple highlight reels to give you something to look forward to.
(These top two videos are out of sync with the audio, so it’s fun to imagine them in a dubbed Japanese movie.)
Mark Barron highlights:
Doug Martin highlights:
April 27, 2012 at 10:13am by Scott • 9 Comments »
Well, that went a little different than I thought. With the new rookie salary cap, teams aren’t afraid to do some trading high in the draft for non-quarterbacks. And trade they did. The first round is over now and the Bucs are the proud owners of the best safety in the draft and arguably the second-best running back draft, both from slots they didn’t originally own. And yet I’m hearing a whole lot of bitching about the picks.
The Bucs traded down from #5 to #7 after Trent Richardson got snagged at #3 by the Browns, who traded up one slot with Minnesota. The Bucs were said to also want this slot, so evidently the Browns offered more for it. Once the Bucs realized they couldn’t get the guy they coveted (Richardson), they apparently weren’t in love with Morris Claiborne enough to hang around at #5 to get him, so they made the move down with Jacksonville and got a fourth-round pick in the process. Keep in mind that everybody knew there were six total elite players in this draft, so the Bucs knew they would very likely not be getting one of them if they made this move. Dallas made a move to #6 to grab Claiborne before the Bucs made their pick and the Bucs seemed okay with that. The Bucs hung at #7 and took Mark Barron, the safety out of Alabama and far and away the best safety in the draft.
From what I’m reading on message boards (where everyone knows everything), people think Mark Dominik got played by Jerry Jones who they’re portraying as expertly navigating his way in front of the Bucs to steal Claiborne. But if the Bucs had really wanted Claiborne, they could have just stood pat and taken him at #5. They obviously didn’t want him enough to spend that kind of pick on him. The Bucs have Ron Cooper, Claiborne’s DB coach at LSU, on their staff. It’s safe to say no team has more information about how good Claiborne is at his job than the Bucs. And if they didn’t think he was worth the #5 pick, I’m inclined to believe them. And this shit about Barron not being worth #7 is silly, too. Barron was rated as the seventh-best player in this year’s draft by Mike Mayock, and that’s exactly where he was taken. According to the league’s draft expert, the Bucs got the perfect value for their pick. I don’t see the controversy here.
The only thing you might be able to argue that Dominik screwed up is only getting a fourth-round pick for moving back two slots so high up in the draft, especially considering what Minnesota got for moving one slot back (a fourth, fifth and seventh). But as I said above, both the Bucs and the Browns wanted to move up, so Minnesota could start a bidding war. If no one else wanted to move up to #5, the Bucs had to take what Jacksonville was offering. The old trade value chart is history and you just get what people are willing to pay. It’s the free market, baby. Love it or leave it. Anyone who argues that Dominik didn’t get enough for his trade is a Communist.
The Bucs moved back into the ass end of the first round by trading with Denver. In exchange for moving up five slots from #36 to #31, the Bucs moved down in the fourth round from #101 to #126. And with that pick, they took RB Doug Martin out of Boise State. Martin isn’t someone I really considered the Bucs taking because there’s nothing truly exceptional about him. He’s not particularly fast or athletic and is not what I would call a “change of pace” back just because he’s short. What he is is a super-solid every down back, exceptional pass-blocker and strong leader with top intangibles. People keep comparing him to Ray Rice, which is fine. I also hear comparisons to Maurice Jones-Drew, which would be pretty damn sweet if he turns out like that. Martin is also an exceptional and aggressive special teams player. He’s actually a four down back.
What this likely means is the end of LeGarrette Blount as the primary tailback. This kind of pissed me off when the Bucs made the pick because I’m a Blount fan and just think he needs some solid coaching to reach his potential. But then it crossed my mind that Earnest Graham is gone and probably isn’t going to get re-signed. What if they are planning to transform Blount into a fullback? A fullback who can beat the shit out of linebackers and every now and then carry the ball with the potential for a breakaway run? Remind you of anyone? Blount has had issues with short yardage situations, but if the coaches can help him with that, he’s an ideal short-yardage back who may still be able to jump over a safety and take it 60 yards down the field dragging defenders behind him. The combination of Martin and Blount has some real potential.
So, I’m a lot more excited about the picks than I was last night. Safety was a serious need and the Bucs got the best one. This may mean the end of the Ronde Barber era at safety, but they also need help at corner, so there’s still plenty of work for him to do there. And we knew running back was a consideration and I like the idea of a Martin/Blount backfield. I’m pretty stoked. Back in the 90s, the Bucs had three straight years of double first-round picks. One of them turned out awesome (Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks), one of them blew (Regan Upshaw, Marcus Jones) and one of them was half and half (Warrick Dunn, Reidel Anthony). Although this pair may not both be getting into the Hall of Fame like Sapp/Brooks, I think this is much closer to being one of the good ones than one of the bad ones.
April 26, 2012 at 03:40pm by Scott • 10 Comments »
There has been talk today about the Bucs’ interest in trading up with the Vikings to the #3 slot so they can secure Trent Richardson since it’s very likely that he’ll be gone by the fifth slot. And of course, what’s the best place to find current and relevant information about the Bucs? Cleveland!
The Tampa Bay Bucanneers at No. 5 are very interested in Richardson and might consider trading up to No. 3, league sources said.
“League sources” are full of shit, and probably so are the Bucs at this point. My guess is that they would like to have Richardson more than Morris Claiborne, but they aren’t going to cry if they stand pat and have to take Claiborne at #5. The Bucs’ secondary is fucking weak and in need of a talent injection. And they’re weak enough elsewhere to know they don’t want to give up premium picks they could use to fill those other holes. Mark Dominik traded up two spots in 2009 to be sure they could land Josh Freeman, but that was from #19 to #17 so the price was a lot lower than it would be here and, also, it was for the centerpiece of the franchise. This would be giving up a lot more for (sorry, Trent) someone not nearly as important. Doesn’t make sense.
And as long as we’re dumping on Richardson, Jim Brown, still probably the greatest running back of all time (sorry, Barry, I still love you though), is not impressed.
“I’m not overwhelmed with it,” Brown said of the idea that the Browns could take Richardson. “The problem is that he’s ordinary. I think he’s ordinary.”
Asked what about him is ordinary, Brown said, “the size, the speed, his moves.”
If Brown is comparing them to himself, then no, Richardson isn’t impressive. But Brown isn’t really impressed with any running backs these days. He says because it’s a game of quarterbacks now, but it is equally likely that Brown is grouchy old fucker who will never be impressed with anything that happened after 1970, so take it with a grain of Metamucil.
The chat room will be open (as it is all the time anyway) during the draft tonight and I’ll pop in and hang out for a while
April 25, 2012 at 03:05pm by Scott • 8 Comments »
According to Rick Stroud, if both Morris Claiborne and Trent Richardson are off the board (and they won’t be) tomorrow night, Luke Kuechly would be a good choice for the Bucs.
Kuechly, the Bronko Nagurski Award winner as the best defensive player in college football, is a tackling machine. He had 191 tackles in 12 games last season and his average of 14 tackles per game for his career is an NCAA record and he’s the only player to lead the ACC in that category three straight seasons.
The Bucs need to get tougher on defense and Kuechly is as hard-nosed as it gets. He also can do something Foster struggled with at middle linebacker — flip his hips and cover receivers. Kuechly really opened eyes when he ran a 4.5 40-yard dash at the NFL combine.
First let’s be clear. Stroud isn’t saying he has heard anything about this actually happening. He’s just offering up some speculation, which is fine considering there’s not really anything else happening today.
People thought I was nuts when I suggested a couple years ago that the Bucs might want to consider taking Sean Weatherspoon instead of Gerald McCoy. I thought Weatherspoon had the ability to be the best defensive player of that draft. History has shown that I wasn’t right about that, but you’d have a hard time arguing that McCoy was a better pick at this point. A dominant force at middle linebacker can make things so much easier for the rest of the defense. I made the argument for Weatherspoon. I might be able to make the same argument for Kuechly, but I’d need some convincing.
Kuechly’s production is huge and he has a lot of top qualities, but the #5 slot really should be for an elite player and I just don’t see Kuechly as elite. I’d love to have him on the team, but wouldn’t Justin Blackmon offer more value at that slot?Kuechly can do everything and do it at a very high level, but he’s not an elite athlete and can sometimes get overpowered by bigger bodies. At the #5 slot, I don’t like being able to list a player’s deficiencies off the top of my head. But if you can get your MLB for the next ten years and know that he’s going to be there and not make many mistakes in his career, how do you turn it down? I dunno, I’m torn. Thoughts?
April 24, 2012 at 01:15pm by Scott • 5 Comments »
BUCS SIGN KICKER: With Connor Barth still not signing his franchise tender and no news of a long-term deal forthcoming, the Bucs signed some insurance and claimed Kai Forbath off waivers. And after actually reading the article, I guess they have another kicker on the team, too: someone named Jacob Rogers, who they say is a “first year player”, which seems impossible before the draft but whatever. I’m sure Barth is shaking in his mismatched boots.
BUCS REWARD EMPLOYEE: Jill Hobbs has been an employee of the Buccaneers since the summer of 1976. The Glazers commemorated her longevity with the team by handing her a check for $35,000. Critics of the Glazers were reportedly upset that they haven’t been willing to spend more on free agent secretaries.
BUCS REUNITE MILITARY FAMILY: Here’s another nice thing the Bucs did recently: A surprise reunion between an Army staff sergeant on leave from Afghanistan and his wife and kids. The Bucs set it up as a video conference, but the soldier was already at One Buc Place in another room ready to pop out for the big reveal. A touching story with a happy ending. Also, the wife is wearing a throwback Mike Alstott jersey, so you know she’s a cool chick.
Every time I have been to Raymond James Stadium, there is always a contingent of military personnel getting some kind of special treatment or premium seating or a behind-the-scenes tour or something else cool. And that’s just awesome. I’m sure other teams do the same thing, but I don’t know those teams. I do know the Bucs and I feel proud every time I see them giving back to the military.
April 23, 2012 at 11:07am by Scott • 7 Comments »
One of the good things about having a draft pick so high is that the speculation goes way down because there are so few realistic possibilities. If you’re sitting at slot 20 or so, there are a dozen different directions you can go not even including trade possibilities. But at #5 this year, the Bucs are going to be choosing between one of four guys, and a couple of them are highly unlikely. Stephen Holder explores one of the less likely ones in Matt Kalil because there is really nothing better to do right now.
There are strong suggestions in NFL circles suggesting that Kalil is not a lock with the Vikings’ No. 3 pick, creating a scenario where he could wind up with the Bucs.
We covered all this on this site last month, but it’s worth updating. Even though the rumors are starting to fly about the Vikings not taking Kalil, they’re taking Kalil. They just are. It makes too much sense. The rumors that I do put a little more credence in are the ones that say that the Browns aren’t sold on Ryan Tannehill at #4, which is good news for the Browns because it shows they’re not hopelessly retarded. I mean seriously, Tannehill at #4 is a HUGE reach — he makes much more sense at #22 which the Browns also have. He makes even more sense in the second round, but that’s not going to happen. He’s just not any better than Colt McCoy who they already have under contract. So the Browns will probably take Trent Richardson because he’s a better player than Justin Blackmon. That puts Morris Claiborne in Tampa Bay where we all knew he’d be.
The possibilities really haven’t changed since last month. The Vikings do have a need at corner but they spent a first-round pick last year on Christian Ponder and need to protect him before anything else. They added a couple (shitty) corners in free agency and will likely spend a second or third rounder on the position, but I don’t think they pass up Kalil.
April 20, 2012 at 10:59am by Scott • 4 Comments »
Every year the Bucs invite a handful of players in on a tryout basis and work them out to see if any of them are worth hanging on to. This year, the Bucs signed two players from that group: safety Ron Girault and running back Robert Hughes. Here is everything you need to know about them:
Girault most recently played for the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL but is familiar to the Bucs’ coaching staff as he played his college ball at Rutgers under Schiano. He originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008 and also spent time that summer with the New York Jets. At Rutgers, he started for four seasons, appearing in 45 games and recording 271 tackles and 10 interceptions.
Hughes was also an undrafted free agent signee, joining the Chicago Bears last summer after a productive college career at Notre Dame. During the 2011 preseason, he carried the ball 18 times for 69 yards and a team-leading two touchdowns and also caught two passes for 26 yards. At Notre Dame, Hughes rushed for 1,392 yards and 15 touchdowns in 47 games.
These guys can’t be considered anything more than camp meat at this point, but apparently that’s a lot harder to do than what you’d think. “Camp meat” is called that because those guys are essentially just pieces of meat to knock around for a few weeks while the real players rest between practices. They know they’re getting cut at the end of camp. I bet most readers of this site think they have what it takes to put on a uniform, get the shit kicked out of them for a while for virtually no money and then get fired at the end of it. But no, it is evidently a serious skill. Serious enough that even the guys that the team specifically invites in to try out for the prestigious position of “tackling dummy with a heartbeat” don’t all make it. So enjoy the rest of your day knowing that you aren’t even close to having what it takes to fail as an NFL player.
April 19, 2012 at 10:21am by Scott • 10 Comments »
BLOUNT BACKPEDALLING: A couple weeks ago, LeGarrette Blount took the shocking and revolutionary opinion that no, he would not like the Bucs to draft Trent Richardson. It was honest, straightforward and made sense. Who wants to see the #5 overall pick spent on his own position? But yesterday Blount changed his tune, most likely because he was told his previous comments might make him seem like a bad teammate.
“Like I said, it was just a comment,” Blount said. “There’s nothing for anybody to read too deep into. You know, there’s not nothing I would want to explain. It was just a comment and I left it at that.
“Of course. I’d welcome him as a teammate. I’ve met the guy before. He’s not a bad kid, but at the same time, like I said, I’d welcome anything that helps the team get better. I’d welcome anybody as a teammate, it doesn’t matter who it is.’’
It’s a softer position, but it’s still valid. Blount can not want the team to draft him while, at the same time, realize he has to be a team player. It’s just disappointing that people have to be such robots. I liked Drew Bledsoe‘s position when he was told that Tom Brady would continue starting even though Bledsoe was healthy again. He said, “I look forward to competing for my job.” It’s polite enough for the press but still sends the right message. You can be a team player and still not have to welcome your replacement with a bouquet of roses.
BARBER ON BEING A SAFETY: Ronde Barber spoke yesterday about taking snaps at safety for this minicamp, and although the words look good, there’s something about them that doesn’t sound right.
“I’m fitting where needed currently,” Barber said. “They know I can play corner. They know I can play inside. I’m where there’s a loose spot right now, which I’m all right with right now. It’s good. It’s fun. There’s a lot to learn, but it’s good.”
To me, that makes it sound like he’d prefer to continue to play corner but is (maybe a little reluctantly) filling in at safety because there’s a bigger need there.
“I’ve never been averse to it in the past. It’s not as if I’m completely unprepared for it. But I’m a football player. I’m in Year 16. I’m not demanding anything. I want to play, and I want to win. And I think our coaches have that same feeling about me.”
“If you ask me to do it, I’ll do it. But I really hope you don’t ask me.” Hey, you’re never going to hear a bad word about Ronde from me. And he’s not going to complain out loud about anything. He just doesn’t sound like he’s all that enthusiastic about switching. But with Morris Claiborne very likely to become a Buccaneer next week and a collection of special teams players being passed off as safeties, it’s probably going to happen.
DEZMON BRISCOE’S DRAMA: Dezmon Briscoe has missed the first couple days of the voluntary minicamp and apparently the reason has something to do with basketball wives and baby’s mamas and cheating and holy shit I thought this was football.
Internet rumor sites are having a field day with what can best be described as a Twitter war between Briscoe’s current girlfriend, reality TV star Royce Reed, and Briscoe’s ex-girlfriend, Christina Nero, the mother of his son.
Nero and Reed earlier this week engaged numerous back-and-forth posts, with Nero saying she and Briscoe have been involved in a relationship, unbeknownst to Reed. That began a series of colorful insults and accusations between the two.
Reed and Briscoe have been dating since 2011. She is one of the stars of the Vh-1 hit show Basketball Wives.
Get to camp now, Dez and maybe, MAYBE you won’t get taped to a goalpost over this bullshit. Also, I’d like to object to use the of the word “star” in all the articles about Briscoe’s girlfriend/fiancé/whatever. Getting a 2 share on a TV show you only got because you accepted a basketball player’s sperm does not make you a star. Trust me, if it did I would have been hanging out at the courts long ago. Did I say that out loud?
April 18, 2012 at 11:51am by Scott • 10 Comments »
Any Bucs who were on the team last year and enjoyed a more leisurely practice pace and goofing-around atmosphere got smacked in the mouth yesterday when the Greg Schiano regime began in earnest.
If Bucs rookie coach Greg Schiano accomplished nothing else today, he captured and held the attention of his players with a breakneck pace to their first on-field action with the team’s new coaching staff.
From the start, even during the team’s stretching period, it was clear that things have changed in Tampa Bay.
Schiano kicked their ass during stretching. “You call that a dorsi-flexion stretch you little maggot?! I’ve seen better stretching in birth videos! Any more half-ass stretching and I will make you do crabwalk gassers!”
Asked about the tempo, which included full-speed sprints in just about every drill, Schiano said, “That’s the only way I’ve ever done it everywhere I’ve been. It’s the only way I know.”
If nothing else, these dudes are going to be in top shape when the season starts. I know it’s popular to say the team quit on Raheem Morris last year, but maybe their practice habits were too lax to keep their endurance up. By the fourth quarter, they may have just been spent. That’s not going to be an issue in 2012.
Schiano warned his players in the past two weeks of what was coming. So, when veterans like 37-year old Ronde Barber were asked to do youth-league like drills, laying on all fours, leaping to his feet and sprinting at full bore, they likely weren’t surprised.
Poor Ronde. This one’s for you.
Now you see why he was so serious about the stretching earlier?
“I felt they did a great job,” Schiano said. “We’ve talked a lot as a group. I’ve said ‘Change is hard. It’s not bad or good. It’s just hard.’ You’re used to one thing. But they’ll get used to this.”
I respectfully disagree, sir. This change is good. Very good.